Prabalika M. Borah
An educative online comic book on COVID-19, up on the CBSE website, is getting attention from across the globe
Even though most of us seem to be talking about COVID-19 all the time, there is a lot of confusion among the general public. Especially children.
While schools declared holidays, netizens shared how some students seemed to be owing the holiday to ‘Corona tyohar (festival)’. In times like these, Ravindra Khaiwal, additional professor of environmental health, Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health PGIMER along with Suman Mor, Department of Environment studies Panjab University, Chandigarh brought out Kids, Vaayu and Corona: who wins the fight?. It is a comic, aimed at COVID-19 awareness.
In the 22-page online comic, Vaayu is a superhero. Dressed in white shirt and blue cape, he is also the narrator of the comic. He doesn’t just explain children about the virus but also tells them how one can be protect themselves from it.
The opening page tells us the need for such a comic. Aimed at children below 12 years, the comic explains why parents should take time to explain about the virus in detail. “But information must be accurate. Wrong information doesn’t just create confusion but also spreads a fearful environment for all. Our hero, Vaayu is a global citizen who lives in the foothills of Himalayas, India and works for better public health and environment. The children call for his help to fight against the global threat,” explains Ravindra.
The story in the comic begins with children watching ‘Breaking news’ on Corona virus, and turning to their parents to understand what it means. The parent postpones the chat with the children and so, the children turn to Vaayu for help. The comic talks about what the virus is, how it can spread and what it can do once it enters the human body. Well-supported by comic illustrations, it also explains symptoms and how one can minimise contact.
Ravindra explains that the comic was originally aimed at spreading knowledge about air pollution. The characters were all created for the same. “The moment Corona was announced as a pandemic we decided to use the strips for COVID-19. As a public health expert, me and my team did a lot of research to bring out the right information. We also sourced information on the virus as published by the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation. The information to be used was vetted by the National Centre of Disease Control, New Delhi, following which the Ministry of Health published it on the CBSE website. It can be easily downloaded. The moment it was uploaded, we could trace the downloads not from just across India but from across the world,” adds Ravindra.
Helping the illustrators and graphic artists to make it children-friendly were Aditya and Lakshya Khaiwal. The team worked on their questions to build the script for the comic.
“There have been requests from the Government of Czech Republic, China, Japan, Canada and a few other countries for them to print and publish in their own languages. We were more than happy to share this comic with them for print with appropriate credit to our government and ministry of health,” adds Ravindra.